Philosophy and History of Science and Technology

TAMUCC Philosophy and History of Science and Technology Don Berkich
Philosophy Group Project Instructions Handout

A striking portion of your grade this semester (20%) derives from a special group project recreating a technological advance. The advance must be recreating using only

  1. The tools,
  2. The materials, and
  3. The techniques

available at the time of the original advance. Thus each group is responsible for researching an advance, researching the social and technological context of the advance, and writing a one page prospectus detailing the advance and explaining how it will be recreated. I will then review the prospectus and either approve, modify, or reject the project.  The prospectus is due Thursday, 9/21/17.

At the end of the semester, person will be responsible for compiling a portfolio of their individual research and contribution to the group project, and it is this portfolio that will substantially count for your individual grade. That is, even though these are group projects, grades are very clearly individual. And when I say 'research' here, I do not mean a binder full of articles. What I want are your carefully written and well-cited explanations of the research you conducted on behalf of your group, descriptions of the discoveries you made along the way, and accounts of the contributions you yourself made to the group effort. You should think of the portfolio as something in between an annotated bibliography and a scholarly diary, if that helps any.

I will assign individual grades for the project based on your portfolios. So far as the project is concerned, I'm most interested in

  • Historical accuracy,
  • Novelty,
  • Difficulty,
  • Presentation, and
  • Total coolness the project adds (in pictures or as a resulting artifact) to my already totally cool office.

Finally, here are the projects from previous Philosophy and History of Science and Technology. Note that these particular projects are not to be repeated, but they do give an idea of the projects students have undertaken previously.

  • Trebuchet (medieval catapult circa 1100 ce)
  • Quill Pen & Vegetable Inks (circa 1700 ce)
  • Monaural Stethoscope, Flexible and Inflexible (circa 1850 ce)
  • Vegetable Fabric Dyes (circa 1850 ce)
  • Chinese rice-paper hot air balloon (circa 300 ce)
  • Atlatl (javelin-throwing device, circa 12,000 - 15,000 bce)
  • Clepsydra (Ancient Greek water clock circa 500 bce)
  • Adobe Bricks (circa undetermined, perhaps 6000 or 7000 bce)
  • Castile Soap (Spain, circa 1600 ce)
  • Egyptian Beehive Glass-making kiln (circa 1200 bce)
  • Chinese Abacus (circa 200 bce)
  • The Daguerreotype Camera (circa 1830 ce)
  • The Baghdad Battery (circa 200 bce)
  • Bow and Arrow (circa 10,000 bce)
  • Water Filtration (circa 1670 bce)
  • Bronze Dagger (circa 2000 bce)
  • Gallic Beer (circa 2500 bce)
  • Egyptian Papyrus Paper and Inks (circa 3000 bce)
  • The Hallifax Gibbet (circa 1700 ce)
  • The Chinese Rocket (circa 1400 ce)
  • The Han Dynasty Compass (circa 200 bce)
  • The DaVinci Odometer (circa 1400 ce)